Tag Archives: Social Networking

I thought xauth was a Unix command…

Axel Nennker is calling out Google and Meebo for the privacy aspects of the new XAuth spec.

Peter Yarid has some thoughts here, but criticizes it more from a business than privacy standpoint.

Techie-buzz has this candidate for the understatement award:

There are of course privacy implications because not every user would want every website in the world to know what social networks it uses.

Gee, you think?

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Living and dying in reputation time

Microsoft has done an interesting study that finds %70 of hr professionals surveyed had rejected applicants due to online reputation. Clearly people need to be more careful about not putting things out there that will hurt their reputation.

But why stop with just hiding the bad? How about accentuating the good? How about inventing the good?

Perhaps there is a great opportunity for a start up that would “puff” people’s online reputations for a small fee. If your prospective employer if browsing your Facebook page, wouldn’t it be great if Reverend Smith was thanking you for your great work you did at the homeless shelter last weekend, or kudos from your kids school for getting their library book fair organized? How about posts from one of your friends about how you helped him move into his new house? A reputation buffing service could plant this kind of reputation to really make you look like the kind of person that employers would want on their team.

Or you could go out and actually do those things… nah, that’s just crazy.

Privacy Salience

This is an interesting story about a study of the economics of privacy in social networking:

The most interesting story we found though was how sites consistently hid any mention of privacy, until we visited the privacy policies where they provided paid privacy seals and strong reassurances about how important privacy is. We developed a novel economic explanation for this: sites appear to craft two different messages for two different populations. Most users care about privacy about privacy but don’t think about it in day-to-day life. Sites take care to avoid mentioning privacy to them, because even mentioning privacy positively will cause them to be more cautious about sharing data. This phenomenon is known as “privacy salience” and it makes sites tread very carefully around privacy, because users must be comfortable sharing data for the site to be fun. Instead of mentioning privacy, new users are shown a huge sample of other users posting fun pictures, which encourages them to  share as well. For privacy fundamentalists who go looking for privacy by reading the privacy policy, though, it is important to drum up privacy re-assurance.

Personally, social networking sites concern me less from a privacy standpoint than institutions such as the government and financial institutions. I follow the rule that sites can’t disclose what they don’t know. I simply won’t voluntarily give any site personal information that I want to be kept private. If they ask for it, I just make stuff up. Unfortunately that is usually not an option when dealing with financial or government institutions.

I guess that makes me a privacy fundamentalist.

A whole lot of I don’t understand it

Newsfactor.com is running the scary headline of the day:

Social Networking Linked To ‘Infantilized Lifestyle’

The gist of the article is that social networking will make us “infantilized” or “autistic” or “something”:

In case you’ve run out of things to worry about, a British scientist has raised concerns about whether social-networking sites could be harmful to your social health. But other reports indicate new ways that social networking can expand relationships.

Oxford University neuroscientist Susan Greenfield, in a debate in the House of Lords, asked if such pastimes are changing the way brains function, shortening attention spans, and possibly even contributing to the rise of autism. Greenfield is a member of the House of Lords, where she holds the title of baroness.

I suppose pointing out that serious autism is diagnosed before age 5 would have any impact on the thinking here would be too much to hope for.

But perhaps the Baroness of Scary Headlines has a mountain of hard scientific research to back this up. Not so much:

“Perhaps given the brain is so impressionable,” Greenfield said, it’s possible that “screen life” is creating a more “infantilized lifestyle,” adding that Facebook and similar sites might create short attention spans. She acknowledged, however, that she did not possess any scientific research to back up her musings, and that it was “based on a little bit of neuroscience, observations, a bit of clinical evidence.”

Greenfield noted that “there is no one single or conclusive killer fact,” although she did report that a teacher acquaintance has noticed a decline in her students’ ability to relate to others.

In other words a little bit of pseudo science, a little bit of folklore, a pinch of something a friend told her, and a whole lot of I don’t understand this whole social networking thing.

Update – from an EA spokesman:

Electronic Arts, the major video game maker, says it has heard arguments like Ms. Greenfield’s before. “It seems like a new entertainment medium hasn’t really arrived until a scientist jumps up and says it’s making us all crazy. Balancing this are studies from equally credentialed researchers that show media like videogames actually enhance problem solving and other complex brain activity,” said spokesman Jeff Brown.

He added: “I’ll wait to read her study on her Facebook page.”

When Open Source Software Makes a Political Statement

An interesting case of an OS drop down widget that made a very political statement. And not one that the web site operator shared (from Instapundit). The social networking angle in this story is also fascinating.

Cart, meet Horse

When people really want to believe something, they are willing to overlook the most obvious of logical fallacies. Thus is correlation conflated with causation in this InfoWorld article on Web 2.0 in the Enterprise. A social networking site for BestBuy is given credit for nearly magical capabilies:

Turnover appears to have been impacted as well as employee morale. The overall turnover rate at the company is 60 percent while turnover of people using the site is just 8 to 12 percent. The site itself has not required a lot of investment and leverages open source software. Currently, the site is restricted to employees only and customers are not able to access it.

Now there are two possibilities here. Either the participation in an employee social network induced employees not to quit in massive numbers, or more motivated and loyal employees chose to participate in the social network. While it’s possible that there is a combination of both, given the differences in turnover, it’s likely a whole lot of the later and very little of the former.

That’s not to say that Enterprise Social Networking isn’t a great thing. It could well be. But a healthy dose of skepticism is always, well, healthy.

A strange form a validation

Here is a headline I could not have imagined 10 years ago as anything other than science fiction or satire:

Dutch police arrest teenage online furniture thief

Apparently there is some kind of teen social networking site called Habbo Hotel that allows teens to outfit their rooms with virtual money, which they buy with real money.

This illustrates that there a two tests to validate that something in the virtual world has real monetary value. 1) If someone is willing to purchase it, or 2) if someone is willing to steal it.

(Mirrored from TalkBMC)